ABB helps strengthen power supply in Alaska

World’s largest battery energy storage system starts operations

Zurich, Switzerland, August 27, 2003 – The world’s largest battery energy storage system, which uses ABB technology, has begun commercial operation in Alaska. The US$ 30 million dollar system is expected to cut power blackouts by more than 60 percent.

“ABB’s high-end power technology is increasing grid reliability and the availability of power in a remote area,” said Peter Smits, head of ABB’s Power Technologies division. “The recent power failures in the United States and Canada show how important such back-up power supplies are.”

The battery energy system, includes a specially-sealed nickel cadmium battery, and is run by Golden Valley Electric Association (GVEA), a cooperative serving the Fairbanks area of Alaska. ABB has supplied a power conversion system, metering, protection and control devices, and service equipment.

The battery will provide continuous voltage support during normal operation, and stabilize GVEA’s system if power supply problems occur.

Ensuring a reliable supply of electric energy is essential for a region, where long supply lines and remote consumers are the rule and where outside temperatures can drop to -51°Centigrade. At such temperatures, water pipes in homes would freeze in about two hours if the power supply failed.

The energy storage system’s 13,760 energy cells, with all four strings operational, are able to feed the power grid in an emergency with 40 MW of power for 6-7 minutes, or 27 MW of power for 15 minutes. Fifteen minutes is long enough to cover the time between a system disturbances and diesel-powered back- up generators being online. Other benefits include reduced air emissions through reduced spinning reserve operations, reactive power support and improved power quality.

The battery, which is larger than a soccer field, is being entered for the Guinness Book of Records.

The battery, which is manufactured from recycled cadmium by the Saft battery production company, is safe, reliable and will be recycled again at the end of its 20-year life cycle.

ABB ( is a leader in power and automation technologies that enable utility and industry customers to improve performance while lowering environmental impact. The ABB Group of companies operates in around 100 countries and employs about 133,000 people.
For further information and pictures, visit the front page of the ABB Web site (

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